Ford to invest $316m to make EV parts at UK factory

18 October 2021 - 10:21 By bloomberg.com and Siddharth Philip
Ford’s Halewood plant is to be transformed to build electric power units for future Ford all-electric passenger and commercial vehicles in Europe.
Ford’s Halewood plant is to be transformed to build electric power units for future Ford all-electric passenger and commercial vehicles in Europe.
Image: Ford

Ford Motor Co will invest as much as £230m (roughly $316m or R4,643,967,600) to start making electric-vehicle components at an existing plant near Liverpool after the UK government pledged financial support.  

The Halewood facility will be retooled to start building electric power units from 2024 to gradually replace manufacturing of combustion-engine transmissions and safeguard jobs at the site, Ford said on Monday. Earlier this year, the US carmaker said it will sell only fully electric cars in Europe by 2030. 

“This is a very important announcement for Halewood, as it will secure the future of the facility along with introducing new technology for Ford vehicles in Europe,” Ford of Europe president Stuart Rowley said in an interview. The plant has about 500 workers, and employment will remain around those levels, Rowley said. 

Ford announced an ambitious overhaul of its European business comprising cars as well as vans and trucks in February, putting the carmaker’s electrification plans ahead of some of its larger competitors in the region. While the investment at Halewood is a win for the UK’s automotive industry, it pales in comparison to Ford’s decision to spend $1bn (roughly R14,696,650,000) to upgrade its sprawling factory in Cologne.

After investments in the UK’s car industry cratered during the drawn out Brexit talks, Stellantis NV and Nissan Motor Co have announced spending plans for their facilities in Britain to start making more electric vehicles. 

Ford’s decision on Halewood marks a bright spot for the British government that’s beset by a series of crises. The UK economy is facing an unprecedented wave of shortages as the effects of Brexit, the Covid-19 pandemic and a surge in natural gas prices leave the country with some empty supermarket shelves, collapsing energy companies and petrol stations running dry. 

“In this highly competitive, global race to secure electric vehicle manufacturing, our priority is to ensure the UK reaps the benefits,” Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said in the statement. 

Ford’s decision to make electric power trains at Halewood adds to a growing trend among carmakers to manufacture electric car components themselves, rather than relying on suppliers. 

“This is a part of the plan to insource strategic parts of the value chain of electric vehicles,” said Rowley.

Last month, Ford and South Korea’s SK Innovation Co agreed to spend $11.4bn (roughly R167,502,708,000) to construct three battery factories and an assembly plant for electric F-Series pickup trucks in Tennessee and Kentucky. The move is the biggest investment in the automaker’s history.

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